Overdue surgery wait list triples
Doctors’ pay dispute adds to delays
AN industrial dispute between doctors and the Government will add further delays to South Australia’s ballooning elective surgery waiting list.
Almost three times more people are waiting for overdue elective surgeries than 12 months ago, with industrial action over stalled pay negotiations to cause further delays.
One thousand South Australians are waiting on overdue elective procedures, substantially greater than the 393 overdue surgeries this time last year.
Overdue procedures have swelled by 826 in just the past two months. Health Minister Peter Malinauskas said 186 delays had been caused by the move to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.
SA Salaried Medical Officers Association president Laura Willington confirmed doctors would hold a stop work meeting on October 12, to protest the Government’s most recent pay offer.
Dr Willington said outpatient clinics and elective sur- gery would be cancelled that morning, placing further stress on the system.
Mr Malinauskas told Parliament the increase in overdue elective surgeries had largely been caused by a huge increase in emergency department presentations.
“Of course, when we see in our system an extraordinary spike in ED presentations and then the patient flow through the hospital system takes place on the back of that, there will need to be adjustments to elective surgery,” Mr Malinauskas said.
As of Wednesday, 79 category one patients at the new RAH had been waiting more than the clinically recommended maximum of 30 days, with 21 waiting between 60 and 90 days.
One urology patient has been waiting more than 90 days for their procedure.
Opposition health spokesman Stephen Wade said moving into the new RAH at the height of flu season had “created dangerous pressures” in an already overstretched hospital network.
“The reduced level of elec- tive surgery cases is leading to a dramatic blowout in patient waits which can only increase the risk to patients and undermine health outcomes,” Mr Wade said.
“This massive blowout in patients waiting too long for surgery makes it critical the Government repairs its toxic relationship with public hospital doctors.”
Dr Willington will meet with Premier Jay Weatherill and Mr Malinauskas on Tuesday to discuss a new pay deal, after SASMOA members rejected the Government’s offer of a 1.5 per cent pay increase.
“The 1.5 per cent was not a real offer and was never going to be accepted by our members,” Dr Willington said.
She said doctors normally needed to take industrial action for pay talks to progress, and hoped the October 12 stop work meeting would prompt Government action.
A Government spokeswoman said it was “committed to securing outcomes that are beneficial to employees and the employer”, but stressed the provision of vital services was “paramount”.